Enjoy the challenge of a daily trek into the wisdom of God as laid out in the book of Proverbs. Walk through each day, for 31 days straight, and listen as God shares the wisdom that you need for everyday life, family situations, parenting, work, finances, and so much more. The question isn’t whether we’re going to learn something valuable, it’s just how much we’ll experience as we take this journey that is more valuable than any earthly riches.
Join the EMF Pastors each day for a deep dive into one chapter at a time, seek out Wisdom’s Treasures, and learn to dig deeper, too. James 1:5 says this, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” So, let’s walk prayerfully into the pages of God’s righteous wisdom!
How to Unlock a Treasure of Wisdom
Day 1 – Read Proverbs 1
Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. – Proverbs 1:7 NLT
If you had the map to find treasure, would you read it? Of course? Proverbs is a treasure trove of wisdom for life. Told from the perspective of a wise, experienced father, Proverbs unveils a short, “Twitter-sized”, instruction manual filled with practical advice, life hacks, and profound teachings.
If you’re like me, you search Google for answers. But Proverbs unlocks its treasure to those disciplined to mine for it. If you’re a husband, wife, single person, student, or grandparent, Proverbs makes us wiser, improves our performance, and grants more rewards than google could ever deliver.
Proverbs 1:2-7 gives the whole purpose of Proverbs. Those 7 verses pack a punch and culminate with Proverbs 1:7, “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” Therefore there are two ways to learn.
1. Wisdom is gained when we bump our heads and learn from our mistakes… now or later!
2. Wisdom is learning from someone wiser with life experience, which provides a roadmap to avoid life’s bruises and draws paths to pursue. Applying careful instruction and avoiding foolish pitfalls is best.
A personal proverb I use when I struggle with listening is writing the acronym (R.P.H.T.A.) on paper to remind me. It stands for a saying that says the ‘Righteous Ponder How To Answer.” (Proverbs 15:28) This proverb has kept me from putting my foot in my mouth many times.
I want to gain wisdom and discernment (Proverbs 1:2), have prudence (Proverbs 1:4), add to my learning (Proverbs 1:5), avoid the wrong company (Proverbs 1:10-19), and escape the dangers of naivete (Proverbs 1:32). All that and more is contained in Proverbs.
Daily Doses of Wisdom’s Treasures
Imagine. Our lives would exude wisdom, discipline, insight, discernment, and righteous wisdom if we followed the roadmap in Proverbs 1:2-7. Author Robert Alden wisely wrote, “Proverbs is for anyone wise enough to listen… wise people will listen to instruction while fools will not.” Friends, let’s take our daily dose of Proverbs vitamins and live significantly for Jesus and others.
1. Proverbs 1 says the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” How can you specifically reverence the Lord more in your life?
2. Fools despise wisdom and instruction. In what measurable ways should you be more teachable?
The Rewards of Seeking Wisdom
Day 2 – Read Proverbs 2
Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. 5 Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God. – Proverbs 2:2,5 NLT
It is easy to ‘overpromise and underdeliver,’ but Proverbs always delivers! After contrasting the two ways (wise or foolish) people live in Proverbs 1, Proverbs 2 promises results and benefits to the ‘choosers of wisdom.’ Commentator Robert Alden aptly says, “…wisdom grants her rewards to those who follow her.”
The word “if” is used three times in four verses (Proverbs 2:1-4 NIV), which shows that life is full of options and choices. The best option is wisdom. God has given us the gift of choices, and those who choose understanding will seek it.
In keeping with the father and son theme in this chapter, Solomon’s passion gushes when he writes, “My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures.” (Proverbs 2:1-4) That’s a passion! Imagine our kids treasuring and turning their ears and concentrating on understanding and searching for wisdom as seeking hidden treasures. When I lose my wallet, I search for it passionately. Passionate searching is a process of finding something a great worth.
Rewards of Wisdom
1. God rewards the eager seeker of wisdom. Here is a treasure chest of rewards and benefits of wisdom.
2. Knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:5)
3. Deeper understanding. (Proverbs 2:6)
4. Clear Direction. (Proverbs 2:9)
5. Paves the way to joy. (Proverbs 2:10)
6. This leads to safety. (Proverbs 2:11-19)
Lifestyle of Wisdom
Knowing wisdom rewards every husband, mother, wife, single, leader, son, daughter, worker, and any role where wisdom is needed. Recognizing my need for knowledge, I read Proverbs often and encourage my kids to do the same. Friends, let’s choose and seek wisdom as a lifestyle. Our families will be helped, and our future inspired with hope as we want understanding daily.
1. In what ways can you show you are committed to choosing to live a life of wisdom?
2. Read a Proverb a day and take one morsel of truth that challenges you to apply it personally.
Get to Know Wisdom Personally
Day 3 – Read Proverbs 3
Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. – Proverbs 3:5 NLT
I know we’ve asked the question, “What’s God’s will for my life?” Proverbs 3 gives us a reliable guide for seeking the only wisdom that counts, God’s wisdom. As we look at the chapter, we see three sections laid out.
The first section (verses 1-12) is super conversational. We get to listen in, as an accepted guest, as a father talks with his son. God is clear about the definite benefits of taking our hands-off life’s steering wheel. When we ask God to be the Driving Instructor for our life, we’ll find ourselves on wisdom’s highway.
God knows we make connections with people better than we do with ideas, so in the second section (verses 13-20), He personifies wisdom for us. Picture the wisest and most responsible person you know. They’re still not wisdom personified. God is describing attributes of Himself (true wisdom) in a way we can grasp. It’s gracious of Him to help us better understand His divine nature and unchanging qualities.
In the last part (verses 21-38), we take what we’ve learned and applied it all to human relationships. God is teaching us about wisdom, giving us a more in-depth understanding, and showing us how to use it all. As a parent, I know how important it is for my teens to understand the difference between basic knowledge and real application.
God’s amazing that way, isn’t He? We don’t have to guess what happens if we ignore what He’s teaching us. He lays it all out clearly. A life lived outside of His wisdom is a life of trouble and sin. He is the Wise Teacher who cares enough to make sure His disciples understand what He teaches.
Daily Doses of Wisdom’s Treasures
It’s all about trust. Verse 6 says, “…in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” If you’ve wondered what God’s will is, He’s inviting you to sit at His feet and learn.
1. Proverbs 3 shows us several evaluation steps. We see the positive & negative consequences of our choices. Who can you ask to help you examine your life and then always point you toward Jesus?
2. Read James 1:1-18 for more profound insight. How would an increased relationship with God’s wisdom help you make decisions this week?
Listen and Don’t Turn Away
Day 4 – Read Proverbs 4
For I am giving you good guidance. Don’t turn away from my instructions. – Proverbs 4:2 NLT
“I remember a lot of talks with my dad, but some things stick with me to this day.”
That’s Proverbs in a nutshell. Thirty-one chapters of one-liners that stick to us. In chapter four of Proverbs, Solomon starts off by saying, “Pay attention.” That is where wisdom begins. We need to pay attention and listen if we are going to attain understanding.
We live in an age of information. Too much information, however, can cause mental clutter, which prevents us from being present and listening attentively to others. If we want to get wisdom, we need to decide to be a good listener. Here is a quick tip; listen silently. The letters in the word ‘listen’ are the same letters in the word ‘silent’. I learned that one from my father!
Solomon also tells us to not turn away from our father’s instructions. That’s a good lesson for us because we are often tempted to turn away from wisdom. Yes, the enemy will work overtime to distract us and get us off course. But the writer tells us that wisdom will lead us on a straight course. Think about this. Understanding leads us down the right path. My dad always said, “Stay the course!”
Staying on this path of wisdom is a decision we must make every day. With God’s help, we can keep the course! I’ve learned that it takes humility and a teachable spirit to gain wisdom. We must decide to pursue knowledge and acknowledge our need for it.
For example, when I read God’s Word, I pray this prayer, “Lord, give me an ear to hear what You are saying to me today.” I pray this because my mind is often so cluttered that I struggle to hear what God is saying over all the other voices and messages. And finally, when we gain knowledge, applying it is what counts! After all, wisdom knows how to use what we have learned.
1. What are two benefits of gaining wisdom?
2. Why is God’s Word the best wisdom?
3. Pray this prayer: “Lord give me an ear to hear”
Pitfalls to Avoid: The Person to Pursue
Day 5 – Read Proverbs 5
Drink water from your own well—share your love only with your wife. – Proverbs 5:15 NLT
As a father, Solomon is passionately giving his son wisdom by imploring his son’s heart to learn wisdom for moral protection and marital joy. Like his son, if we receive understanding, counsel, discernment, and knowledge (Proverbs 5:1-2), we are insulated from immorality, and our families can enjoy relationships and even healthy marriages (Proverbs 5:3-6). We all long for meaningful friendships, and as a husband and parent, I want marital purity, mental safety, and relational safety for all my kids. This proverb provides the roadmap for marital fidelity and meaningful relationships.
1. Avoid the Unhealthy Well. After imploring us to listen, Proverbs 5:7-14 focuses on how to avoid an ‘unhealthy well,’ specifically speaking of being involved with an immoral woman. If we fall into this ‘well’ we:
- Lose our honor. (Proverbs 5:9)
- Give away our wealth to strangers. (Proverbs 5:10)
- Experience stinging regret. (Proverbs 5:12-13)
- Face public disgrace. (Proverbs 5:14)
2. Drink from Your Own Well. But to ‘drink from our own well,’ means we stay committed to our spouse. Single or married, intimacy with God always precedes the success and contentment of any relationship. God does not blush when He gives us these “God-sized’ bites of wisdom. He desires for us to:
- Enjoy sexual pleasure with our spouse. (Proverbs 5:15)
- Experience the knowledge and peace of marital fidelity. (Proverbs 5;16-17)
- Exult in the spiritual, emotional, mental, and sexual satisfaction with our spouse. (Proverbs 5:18-19)
3. Remember Jesus Is The Ultimate Well. If we have dipped into an ‘unhealthy well’ or did not ‘drink from our own well,’ Jesus gives us hope. He paid for every wrong dip in ‘unholy wells.’ Every sin is covered by grace if we have trusted Jesus. He died to forgive us and is ready to forgive you even if you dove into an ‘unhealthy well.’ Drink from His well of mercy since He loves you and rose for you. (Romans 8:31) Lose your condemnation. (Romans 8:1). Experience the grace of His well of love and see how His mercy is higher than our sin. (Romans 5:20) Maybe He will say to you one day, “Well done!”
1. Think about someone who models marital faithfulness. Write down two of their qualities and follow them.
2. In what ways can the satisfaction we experience in marriage and family, be a deterrent to the ‘unhealthy wells’ in life? (See Proverbs 5:15-23)
Wisdom from The Ant
Day 6 – Read Proverbs 6
Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! – Proverbs 6:6 NLT
One of the ways God speaks to us is through creation. In this chapter, He tells us to “Take a lesson from the ants.” Why the ants? Out of all the creatures, why not choose the lion, bear, or cheetah? See, God is not quick to overlook the small things in life. He is always speaking, especially in the ordinary. Let’s learn how He speaks through these little creatures called ants.
Ants don’t live for the applause. Notice verse seven states that, “They have no governor or ruler to make them work.” That is, they don’t wait to be affirmed and applauded to work hard. Here is the lesson: liking applause and living for applause are two completely different things. We can like applause, but we are in trouble when we live for it. The ants don’t live for praise. That’s a great nugget of wisdom.
Ants work hard. Simple point, but powerful. Hard work pays off! Notice verse eight says, “They labor hard all summer.” When I was in college, procrastination was a hurdle. I put things off until the last minute. The ants teach us a lesson here. Do the hard stuff first. Here’s a practical tip: look at your to-do list and focus on finishing the hard things first. However, give yourself grace when you blow it. Don’t be too hard on yourself. In fact, one of the disciplines I practice to this day is celebrating small victories and learning to reward myself for working hard.
Although, working does not mean that you are being productive. Ants are fruitful and productive. Notice verse eight tells us they not only labor hard all summer but “gather food for the winter.” That is, they are fruitful, not just busy!
Ants store for hard days. Hard days will eventually come, and we need to be prepared. The ants teach us to store just in case a famine strikes. There is wisdom in saving and preparing for the worst. But storing doesn’t only refer to finances and food. We are to store God’s Word in our hearts so we can share it with others. A famine can be a spiritual famine, not just a physical one. What a lesson from the ants!
1. What important task do you need to finish this week?
2. What is the difference between being busy and fruitful?
3. Why is living for applause so dangerous?
Wisdom’s Warnings for Purity
Day 7 – Read Proverbs 7
Obey my commands and live! Guard my instructions as you guard your own eyes. – Proverbs 7:2 NLT
We live in a visually overloaded world.
When Solomon was writing these proverbs, there weren’t screens everywhere, but the temptation was still real.
Proverbs 7 tells us to cling to wisdom, remain pure, and steer clear of immorality. This call is just as relevant today as it was in his time. God’s wisdom applies across cultural barriers, throughout time, and makes sense in every context imaginable.
In this chapter, we see wisdom personified again, and we’re told to pursue a healthy, active relationship with her. We’re encouraged to wrap ourselves up in what she has to say and love her like a member of our own family.
Wisdom reminds us sexual fulfillment can only happen within the covenant of marriage. So, starting in verse 5, we are cautioned against pursuing any type of impure relationship. He warns us about the lies and smooth talk wicked people use to lure us into sin.
My wife and I have very transparent, Jesus-centered conversations about these issues so we can support each other. We choose to be cautious with the media we consume. People in Solomon’s day had to walk to a specific area of town, but we have this temptation resting in our phones, televisions, and laptops. Seduction has crept from the streets and into the privacy of our homes. The danger has grown.
So, how can we take Solomon’s warning to heart and keep our lives pure? As we follow Jesus, in humble obedience, we walk in His footsteps. That means we never venture into places designed to tear us apart from Him. Read verses 6-9 again. Solomon talks about seeing the danger. It’s so obvious, but those who lack wisdom are walking right into sin without even thinking.
Daily Doses of Wisdom’s Treasures
In verses 24-25, there’s a call to pay attention to where we allow ourselves to go. This means we need to be situationally aware, and mindful of our own weaknesses. God’s wisdom will always protect us.
1. Read Matthew 5:28, 1 John 2:16, and 1 Corinthians 6:12-20. What is God telling you about purity?
2. Take steps today to guard your heart and home by guarding everyone’s eyes. Identify the programs, videos, or social media platforms that lead you away from purity. Find an accountability partner and check out, xxxchurch.com, covenanteyes.com, or accountable2you.com.
Finding Joy in God’s Wisdom
Day 8 – Read Proverbs 8
For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the LORD. – Proverbs 8:35 NLT
Have you thought about the voices that guide your life? Have they earned the right to be heard, or are they just loud? Are they helpful voices? Do they lead you to be better than you are, or do they drag you down to where they are?
We need to cautiously evaluate the voices we allow into our head and heart space. Just because someone is loud, charismatic, or has a big audience, doesn’t mean they have the right to be a guiding inner voice in your life. Selfish human agendas rob us of life. God’s true Wisdom adds blessing to our life. If we want to navigate this life and find peace, there’s no voice of higher value than God’s. He knows the way.
As Christians, we need a reliable map for our worldview that finds its source in God’s Wisdom and in His Word. Voices are screaming for our attention. They seek to create false values and press selfish human agendas in our path. We need a guide to help us navigate the rapids of secular culture.
Listen as Wisdom cries out in Proverbs 8. God’s Wisdom comes in His complete authority, and it’s given in His love. It’s foolish to ignore Him. When we need to make decisions, we can only listen to the voice that truly knows us and the course we travel.
Think about God, in His Wisdom, calling out to you with directions on the river ahead. He helps us avoid rocks that would capsize us, swirling eddies that stall our progress and steer us away from dead-end side streams leading to stagnation and death. God is the only Reliable Guide for the river of life. After all, He created it.
Daily Doses of Wisdom’s Treasures
As we grow, trusting in God’s Wisdom, we’ll find greater peace and certainty, even in difficult seasons. Those competing voices only drag us down, but God’s wise and faithful guidance always lifts our eyes toward Him and toward life.
1. Living in God’s Holy Wisdom is going to change us. Re-read Proverbs 8 and prayerfully ask God to help you identify the voices that would distract you from growing in His Wisdom.
2. Excellent river guides know the river because they’ve traveled it many times. If you’re feeling stuck, who can you reach out to guide you in God’s Wisdom?
What Door Will You Choose?
Day 9 – Read Proverbs 9
Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment. – Proverbs 9:10 NLT
It’s a common practice to have security updates and learning sessions when you work in a corporate setting. You learn to identify dangerous emails, phishing attempts, and other malicious intentions that seek to lure unsuspecting people into places that leave the organization vulnerable to theft. We must understand what danger looks like.
In Proverbs 9, we see two doors we can choose from. One leads to the house of wisdom, the other to the home of folly. They’re both calling, “Come in with me.” One door leads to life: the other leads to death.
Wisdom opens her door so she can give to you from her abundance. She’s providing a space that is intended for your benefit, growth, and maturity. Folly opens her door, luring you to stolen goods, temporary pleasures, and things that take life from you. She’s opened the door to death.
Wise people are teachable people. When we seek out God’s wisdom, we need to come in humility. We need to be teachable. How can we be sure we’re being teachable and wise? Teachable people pause to listen with humility. Wise people seek to apply what they’ve heard.
Foolish people do everything on their own, and that just leads to dead ends and trouble. So, let’s choose to be humble, to listen, to be teachable, and to apply what we’ve learned from God’s wisdom. The more we know God, the easier it becomes to spot the enemy’s lies. Just like you and I know not to trust emails from random foreign royalty promising us millions of dollars, we can learn to spot the phony sales tactics of foolishness and temptation used to distract us. If it sounds too good to be true… it’s probably folly.
Daily Doses of Wisdom’s Treasures
As we seek out God’s wisdom, we’ll find life, peace, and hope. These are the treasures of wisdom’s house, and we need to be intentional about pursuing them. If we try to go the easy way, through the door of foolishness, all we’ll find are lies, trouble, and ultimately, death.
1. Don’t be hasty in your decision-making. Talk with friends about building prayerful pauses into your decision-making process.
2. Work on learning something new from Scripture daily. Develop a humble, teachable attitude as you seek God’s sound wisdom.
Why God’s Way Is The Best
Day 10 – Read Proverbs 10
Tainted wealth has no lasting value, but right living can save your life. – Proverbs 10:2 NLT
“Always take the high road,” my father said. When I was young, I had no idea what that meant, but I heard my father say that often. That’s another way of saying that God’s way is the best. My father’s words continue to ring in my head to this day. Not only that, but his words also saved me from a lot of trouble! This chapter will show us why God’s way is the best.
Proverbs chapter ten is different than the previous nine chapters. Every verse provides a contrast. You will notice the word “but” in this chapter. Picture Solomon, the writer, who is merely making observations about life. Remember, these are not promises, but only wise observations, that are inspired by God.
As an example, consider verse two of this chapter. Notice the contrast that is being made by Solomon. “Tainted wealth has no lasting value, but right living can save your life.” The emphasis is on the right living, which can save our lives! Tainted wealth, profits nothing. In a nutshell, he is telling us there’s nothing wrong with wealth, but how we get wealth really matters. This applies to every area of life. If we are moving ahead, we need to make sure we are moving forward the right way. Solomon invites us to make wise decisions and walk in the form of wisdom.
Here is a tip for decision-making: think about the legacy you will leave behind before making a decision. How will my decisions impact my family, friends, and ultimately my relationship with Christ? Will my choices hurt the heart of God? These are great questions to consider. Remember, foolish decisions not only affect us personally but those around us as well.
Making decisions with a proper perspective is also vital. We are to make decisions considering eternity. Remember, our highest goal is to please God. Ask the simple question: is this God’s way?
Another tip to consider is the importance of taking time to intentionally process before deciding. Never rush before making an important decision. Take time to process. This will help us walk in wisdom, and it can ultimately save our lives!
1. Why is making decisions considering eternity so important?
2. What is a decision you need to process this week? Take time to process this decision.
Prizes to Pursue, Pitfalls to Avoid
Day 11 – Read Proverbs 11
Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. – Proverbs 11:2 NLT
Proverbs 11 is filled with the Father’s passion for his son. This chapter dispenses God’s grace revealing the greatness of humility to pursue, and the pitfalls of pride to avoid.
Avoid the pitfall of pride. (11:2) Years ago, I was in a seminary preaching class, and to be honest, it was awful giving a sermon before my peers. My college pastor and mentor, Scott, was our Professor. Of all my classmates, I gave my speech last that day. Shortly after I spoke, Professor Scott told everyone to leave, so he could give me feedback. I thought I was getting a compliment. Scott looked me in the eye and gently said, “Rick, you just didn’t seem humble or broken before the Bible.” I was crushed. My mentor felt I was proud as I taught the Bible.
It’s been 20 years now, and that message is still seared in my mind. In his book Humility: True Greatness, CJ Mahaney describes pride. It is when we “aspire to the status and position of God and refuse to acknowledge our dependence upon Him” Ouch! Since pride is like a cork in the water, always poking itself up to be noticed, we must weaken it in these six ways:
1. Learning the grace of God.
2. Casting my cares upon Him. (1 Peter 5:5-7)
3. Staring at the stars and feeling my smallness. (Psalm 8:3-5)
4. Seeing my need of Jesus for everything. (John 15:5)
5. Building a bigger view of Jesus. (Psalm 139:1-6)
6. Pursue the prize of humility.
Far from sitting on the fence humming, hiding our beliefs, strengths, or achievements, humility is practical. Author John Dickson in his book “Humilitas,” says humility is the “noble choice to forgo your status, deploy your resources, or use your influence for the good of others before yourself.” Dickson adds the humble person is marked by a “willingness to hold power in service to others.” Here are 5 more practical ways CJ Mahaney says we can weaken pride and cultivate humility.
- Identify the evidence of God’s grace in others.
- Encourage and serve others each day.
- Invite and pursue correction.
- Respond humbly to trials.
- Laugh often and often laugh at yourself.
Jesus is the ultimate example of humility. Let’s remember His forgiving grace for our pride and His perfect example. As we depend on God, continue to be grateful, and glorify Jesus (Psalm 115:3), the next generation will see true greatness, which is humility!
1. Read the six practical ways to weaken pride and cultivate humility. Pick two to focus on. Think of specific ways to apply these in your life.
2. Encouraging and serving others is a sign of humility. Who can you help today? Pick a time to serve them and put it on your calendar.
The Importance of Discipline
Day 12 – Read Proverbs 12
To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction. – Proverbs 12:1 NLT
Discipline: we need it. I was a young man in college and was just hired as a milkman. Working 14-hour days, up at 2 am, hundreds of pounds of milk, cottage cheese, butter, and ice cream stacked into my “Little Mac” truck for restaurant delivery was typical. Organizing routes, placing orders, and customer service was critical. Though I disliked this job, it delivered me what I needed… DISCIPLINE.
The word ‘discipline’ gets the bad press! Most of us are probably picturing coaches yelling, drill sergeants screaming, and parents commanding their children. But discipline can mean training, instruction, or firm guidance that educates us to live in the ways of God. The goal of training is for our good and to know Jesus (Hebrews 12:10). Far from the above stereotypes, the positive aspects of discipline are:
- To instruct a proper fear of God (Proverbs 15:33).
- To gain a correct perception of self (Proverbs 15:33).
- To teach godly character (Proverbs 1:3).
Imagine if singles, children, parents, and families were choosing wise actions, executing smart decisions, and acting reasonably toward others. We would avoid the wild fruits of foolishness like being a slave to our foolish decisions (Proverbs 19:27), grief to one’s parents (Proverbs 15:5), and even being judged as a fool (Proverbs 19:18).
Discipline: wise people choose it. If we are wise, we will accept God’s invitation for correction, never retribution (Proverbs 22:6), and we will do the following:
- Accept correction and instruction as a way of life (Proverbs 6:23).
- Grasp the truth of God (Proverbs 15:5).
- Be a blessing to our parents (Proverbs 29:17).
- Be honored by others (Proverbs 13:18).
Friends, let’s be wise and choose a life of discipline. Like yeast to bread, training touches and enhances everything if we accept it.
Discipline: Jesus forgives when we lack it. If you have been unhealthy and lack discipline, Jesus already knows and is ready to forgive. He paid for all our lack of training on the cross. He is abounding in love (Psalm 86:5), prepared to forgive, and wants to help you get your life on track for the purpose of godliness (1 Timothy 4:6-7). Breathe in God’s grace and let’s recommit to a life of discipline since God is for us!
1. Wise people choose the ways of discipline (above). Pick 1 and apply it to your life, specifically this week.
2. Jesus loves it when we confess our faults to Him. In what ways can you tell God your weaknesses, receive grace, and be empowered to choose discipline and hope for a bright future?
Who’s In Your Circle?
Day 13 – Read Proverbs 13
Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble. – Proverbs 13:20 NLT
When I was in high school, I became good friends with two of my basketball buddies who were in their late twenties. They were smart, and they loved the Lord! Every now and then, my parents called me and asked where I was. When I told them I was with one of my basketball buddies, they knew I was in good company. In fact, they encouraged me to hang out with them more often. My parents knew they were a significant influence in my life.
As we examine our lives, we need to take a close look and ask ourselves who is influencing us the most. We all have influencing voices that are either impacting us positively or negatively. Influencing voices are not only friends but also what kind of entertainment we engaged with on television or the internet. We are all being discipled. To be a disciple means to be a learner. We must be careful who we allow to speak into our lives. I am grateful for my basketball buddies who poured into my life when I was in high school. They were devoted godly men who taught me about who God was and how to walk with Jesus.
In Proverbs 13:20, we are told that one of the ways we walk in wisdom is by walking with those who are wise. So how do we “walk with the wise?” How do we choose the right friends? Listen carefully to the words of the wise. Everything we learn is based on our ability to listen.
- Take time to listen attentively.
- Ask questions when wise people are around.
- Make sure those we walk with love God and honor His Word.
Examine the fruit of those you walk with. Look for good fruit and healthy results from a person’s life before you decide to associate with them. Although we must choose our friends wisely, this does not mean we never associate with unbelievers. Jesus hung out with sinners and tax collectors. We are called to be a light to a dark world. However, there are friends in our lives that impact us the most. It’s those we must choose wisely.
1. Why is it important to look for the fruit in a person’s life before you walk with them?
2. What are the two reasons we need godly friends?
3. Do you have anyone in your life who is a godly influence? Who can you be a friend to?
Defeating Angry Emotions
Day 14 – Read Proverbs 14
People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness. – Proverbs 14:29 NLT
I love sports. But winning and extreme competitiveness have been a battle for me personally. So since God knows everything about me and how to best guide me, in His wisdom, He allowed me to witness a cursing, vein-popping, angry man play tennis. Seriously, the guy eventually threw his racquet and almost hit someone because he was so furious. In the heat of the moment, I said to myself, “I can look like that sometimes.” Also, I was placed in the same living space with a hot-tempered roommate in college. I still have a lot of growing to do in this area of my life, but here are two principles that I’ve observed to help you defeat anger.
1. Wise People Are Slow To Anger. Far from “Rambo-like’ revenge, people who are slow to anger have great understanding. Think about those people who seem to ‘trigger’ us to frustration. If we have excellent knowledge, we can avoid an outburst of anger (Proverbs 16:32) because we possess calm patience. Even God Himself has the quality of quiet steadfastness (Exodus 34:6).
Years ago, I was cleaning our house and noticed ONE cheerio on the floor. In anger, I said to my wife and son, “Who dropped the cheerio on the floor!” They looked shocked, then laughed. Then I laughed at my foolishness on full display over ONE cheerio!
Proverbs 19:11 says, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” The word ‘glory’ means BEAUTY. We will be ‘beautiful’ like God when we pursue higher goals like overlooking insults, being patient with friends, family, and even enemies. Author Ray Ortlund writes, “The Bible never says, “God is wrath.” The Bible does say, “God is love.” (1 John 4:8,16). We do not have to provoke Him to love us since love is His spontaneous response to us. What grace!
2. Jesus Forgives Our Anger. When we get frustrated, our anger is a judging emotion. But grace remembers God overlooks our many offenses. Jesus has paid for every angry outburst on the cross, and we will never see God’s wrath. Instead of foolish anger, take the high road of grace and spread the peace of Christ (Colossians 3:15) to our friends, neighbors, families, and communities. Jesus is the hope our world is starving to see, inside you and me (1 Peter 3:15).
1. There are 2 types of anger: people blow-up or clam-up. Which type are you? How can you love in those ‘frustrating’ situations?
2. James 1:19 says we should be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” In what specific ways can you be a better listener and slow to get angry?
The Power of a Gentle Answer
Day 15 – Read Proverbs 15
A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. – Proverbs 15:1 NLT
I remember coming home from work to a super messy kitchen. As soon as I walked into the house, my wife hugged me and asked how my day went. I told her it went well, and I shifted my attention straight to the dirty dishes. “You never do the dishes anymore,” I said in an angry tone. Her countenance changed. I acted out in anger. Her response was a gentle one, which de-escalated the situation. She showed wisdom.
Proverbs 15 paints a beautiful picture of how we need to respond to an angry person. The overall message is simple: what we say and how we say it matters. All of us have said things we regret, especially when we responded in anger. We will eventually encounter a person who loves to argue. Therefore, we must be prepared to respond in a godly way.
By nature, we tend to respond with anger when we feel mistreated! If they get angry, we get mad right back! Proverbs 15 gives us some practical insight into how we are to respond to an angry person. The answer is simple:
1. Respond gently. We do this because a gentle answer, “deflects anger.” Raising our voices will only add fuel to the fire. A soft reply puts the fire out.
2. Respond thoughtfully. There is wisdom in giving thought to the words we say to others. I’ve had to realize that being right is not the goal. The goal is never to prove how wise we are. It’s to be Christ-like in all we do. That’s the real goal. And the world is waiting to see Christ through our actions. I’ve had many arguments and debates that were a waste of time. I’ve learned to listen, and instead of responding with anger, a gentle response put the fire out in the argument.
It’s crucial we keep in mind that every Christian’s calling is to make disciples, not to prove people wrong or win arguments. We can win an argument but lose the person. When we respond in anger, we are losing the soul, and souls matter. God is all about people.
So, when someone speaks to us in an angry tone, we listen, and we lower our voices. Usually, an angry person is speaking out of a wounded place. A gentle answer will help deflect their anger. With God’s help, we can respond gently.
1. What are two benefits of providing a soft answer to someone who is angry?
2. How can our words affect our witness to the world?
3 Keys to Great Planning
Day 16 – Read Proverbs 16
We can make our plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. – Proverbs 16:1 NLT
My heart sunk, and eyes bulged like saucers as I stared at my several thousand-dollar college tuition bill. “I don’t have enough money! Why didn’t I plan for this?” I thought. The anxiety balled in my stomach. I took out a school loan in desperation. Why? Poor planning.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Since God is a God of order and loves us, here are three strategic keys to successful planning, that help us live hopeful, God-pleasing lives.
Plan vertically by living for God today. We are planning vertically when we live for God’s glory (Isaiah 43:7), love Him (Matthew 22:37), and plan to work for Him. (Colossians 3:23). When we bring God into our plans, it pleases Him. (2 Corinthians 5:9). Vertical planning can include:
- God’s Word directing our decision-making (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
- Living day to day in light of beholding God’s glory for eternity (Isaiah 43:7).
- Practicing the presence of God everywhere you go (Psalm 139).
Plan conditionally. Look for God’s changes to your plans, but plan conditionally. Make your plans, then say, “If the Lord wills, we will do this or that”. Remember to submit your ideas to God first and ask for His intervention, otherwise, your plans may be redirected and your response may be foolish (Proverbs 16:9). James writes, “Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year… How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? … What you ought to say is, ‘If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.’ (James 4:13-15) Conditional planning allows God to freely change our plans because He knows best. Proverbs 16:1 says, “We can make our plans, but the Lord gives the right answer.”
Plan Hopefully. Live with God’s hope in mind. If poor planning has crippled you and hurt others, Jesus is ready to forgive. He loves us, died for our sins, and wants us to plan hopefully with His wisdom. Plan, then throw yourself into life. Go to school or go back to school. Ask someone special out on a date. Craft the budget. Enjoy family memories. Live for others and pursue your dreams. Remember, God works everything for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
1. In what ways can you aim your goals to please Him? (2 Corinthians 5:9) What mindsets do you have that need to be more conditional in case God changes your plans? (See James 4:13-15)
2. In what ways can your plans benefit and give hope to others?
Why Wise People Wait to Speak
Day 17 – Read Proverbs 17
A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered. – Proverbs 17:27 NLT
Navigating social media is always interesting, isn’t it? Especially in our world today, where there seems to be a million voices speaking constantly. There are things to respond to that are almost trying to offend our sensibilities. It’s hard to scroll through your feed without seeing something that makes you want to type out a few quickly worded lines in response. Then, they’ll know you’re right, and that they were wrong. You know just what to say right?
But, is it wise to fire off our opinion at every opportunity? Proverbs 17:28 tells us that even fools who stay silent are considered wise. We’ve all seen the devastation caused by foolish talk when people pop off at the mouth whenever and wherever they choose. Foolish talk has destroyed many people.
I’m a pretty clever person. Since I’m a teacher by God’s design, I always have something to say, some seemingly helpful nugget to add to any conversation. (I’m poking fun at myself here!) But when I was young, I learned my quick remarks weren’t always well-timed, and occasionally, my pride may have been showing. I had to learn to build in a personal pause.
Even if we think we have the best answer for a situation, this chapter reminds us that pauses in our conversations are always a smart move. If we want to “prove” ourselves, we need to do a quick motive check and figure out why we feel the need to prove ourselves to someone else. If we have some need to be heard, we should take that to God before taking our “answers” to other people.
- Wisdom says to wait and cool off.
- Check the facts.
- Weigh the moment.
So, let’s build one another up (1 Thessalonians 5:11) and be an encourager. We may have something constructive to say, but timing and tone make all the difference. We aren’t supposed to be people who manufacture or perpetuate drama. We don’t want to be the type of person who must continuously make amends for what we’ve said.
Daily Doses of Wisdom’s Treasures
Proverbs 17:3 tells us God is the One who tests our hearts. Read Luke 6:45.
If we weigh our words with His wisdom, He’s sure to win the day.
1. Practice the personal pause. Learn to wait before speaking.
2. Read James 3:1-12. Who can you invite to help you stay accountable for watching your tongue?
The Best Way to Battle Loneliness
Day 18 – Read Proverbs 18
The name of the Lord is a strong fortress; the godly run to Him and are safe. – Proverbs 18:10 NLT
If nobody ever plans on being alone, why do people consistently say loneliness is one of their biggest concerns?
When I offer pastoral care for people, I tell them the enemy’s playbook is very limited. But he’s decent at the plays he knows how to run. One of his favorite strategies is simply called “isolation.” He loves luring people off by themselves.
Also, consider this: Social media is anything but social. It makes us feel like we’re talking to people. But, psychologically speaking, online contact doesn’t register the same as in-person contact. Even people who claim to be introverts still need to be around people, even if it’s just one other person.
Re-read verse one. There’s a tendency toward isolation when we’re walking in sin or battling with our mental, emotional, or spiritual health. Depression (verse 14), anger (verse 6), and shame (verse 3) all isolate us.
The enemy wants it this way. He wants us to think we have nowhere to go. But look at what’s written just ahead in verse 10. There’s an answer to isolation.
If you ever feel the need to retreat, God’s presence is where you can run.
Wisdom says we’re better off when we team up with people who genuinely want what’s best for us, not those who drag us down. Verse 24 teaches us that having a bunch of people around isn’t the answer. Instead, we need to seek out healthy, God-honoring relationships.
Real friends are easy to rally when times get tough, but flakey friends are nowhere to be found.
Solid friendships come from intentional community-building, and that’s how the church serves one another. When times get tough, the Church gets her chance to shine! Meal trains get started, prayer warriors are activated, and we seek to meet each other’s needs as Christ met ours on the cross.
Daily Doses of Wisdom’s Treasures
Let’s not “lash out at common sense,” but instead find our refuge and strength in God and His people. No one can “do church” alone. Say “no” to isolation.
1. If you’re not regular and active with a church family, make that decision to get connected today: Churchfinder.com
2. Read Ecclesiastes 4:12. Who are your other two “strands”? How can you support each other this week?
Who Cares About Integrity?
Day 19 – Read Proverbs 19
Better to be poor and honest than to be dishonest and a fool. – Proverbs 19:1 NLT
Both my dad and my grandfather served as elders in my home church for decades. As I grew up, I was blessed to watch uncompromising men of integrity walk through life. I got a front-row seat to see how their actions and decisions affected others in a positive way, including myself. There was no question about their honesty, self-discipline, humility, and relationship with Jesus, which was of utmost importance to them.
My dad talked with me about verses like Proverbs 19:1. He let me know keeping my integrity intact was more important than promotions. If compromising honesty was the cost of “climbing the ladder,” it was better to make less money and maintain my integrity than play the world’s foolish games. When we choose honesty, we walk in integrity and wisdom.
I’m glad Proverbs begins with a father and son conversation. We hear love and good-hearted intention laid out through the wisdom of our Father’s perfect will. Through this understanding, God sets the tone for the entire collection of thoughts in this book, and we find solid direction from the Lord through these proverbs.
We don’t hear harsh tones with wagging fingers. Instead, we see a Father’s concern for His children, a desire for wisdom and integrity, and why a life of self-discipline leads down the best pathways. Integrity and self-discipline are guideposts that help keep us in our Father’s will.
In Proverbs 19, we see why operating with integrity and self-discipline is essential. The author of Proverbs writes in verse 24, “Lazy people take food in their hand, but don’t even lift it to their mouth.” Self-discipline teaches us the value of good, hard work. It reveals why entitlement, laziness, and living without direction can be a burden on the people around us.
Biblical keys for walking with integrity
- Verses 5 and 9 remind us that lies are always exposed in the end.
- Verse 13 tells us our attitudes and motivations carry weight for others.
- Verse 22 shows us that loyalty and honesty do matter.
Daily Doses of Wisdom’s Treasures
I will never forget those lessons about being a person of character. They have guided and guarded me well over the years. We don’t become people of integrity by accident. We must pursue it daily, with humility, through God’s wisdom.
1. Who’s been the best example of God-honoring integrity in your life? Reach out and thank them today.
2. Read Titus 2:7. Why is it so crucial for us to have integrity and self-discipline as we lead others toward Christ?
Taming the Tongue
Day 20 – Read Proverbs 20
Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling. – Proverbs 20:3 NLT
Ever been upset, then didn’t say anything, and were glad you didn’t respond? Proverbs commends you by saying, “Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling.” Our tongue is a small part of the body but untamable. Here are four ways to T.A.M.E. our tongue and train it for encouraging others.
1. Temper your words. ‘Temper’ can also mean ‘soften.’ Though our tongue cannot be tamed, we can soften its edges, so our friends, family, and co-workers receive a blessing. A powerful verse in James 4:7-8 says, “People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue…” This truth can help soften us and temper our speech.
2. Avoid an angry tone. A wise pastor told me to attack problems and not people when tempted by anger. We know plunging into anger is foolish. When Proverbs 20:3 says, “Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor…,” it means there is no shame in refusing to fight. Attacking problems and loving people help conquer the rough edge of the tongue.
3. Mine valuable insights. “Wise words are more valuable than much gold and many rubies.” (Proverbs 20:15) Therefore, the ability to communicate is more valuable than the most expensive gold or gems. Wise, godly communication is more precious than diamonds.
4. Encourage others. I became a pastor because a college professor encouraged me years ago. Communicating encouraging words is life-changing. In Ephesians 4:29, Paul writes, “…Let everything you say be good and helpful so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” I now use phrases like: “God is working in you.” “I believe in you.” “You are so gifted.” “I love you no matter what.” to give hope and uplift others.
Daily Doses of Wisdom’s Treasures
When our tongue fails and even hurts those closest to us, Jesus is our hope. He died on the cross for every sinful and careless word we would speak. His love and grace extend to every tongue tantrum (Romans 5:20). Let’s communicate His love and grace because someone needs to be encouraged by your words today!
1. Since no one can tame the tongue, how can you yield to the Holy Spirit to flavor your speech with grace in future conversations?
2. In what specific ways can you use your speech to encourage others today?
4 Ways to Sustain ‘Soul Health’
Day 21 – Read Proverbs 21
Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble. – Provbers 21:23 NLT
I have apologized numerous times (and still do) to my family and friends for reckless words that have pierced their souls like a sword. The power of fiery speech creates pain for us all. How can we improve our ‘soul health’ that, in turn, affects our ‘word health’? Below are four ways to have “soul health,” so we can best serve others with gentleness and joy.
1. Prioritize ‘Soul Health’. Years ago, I had a meeting with a friend who saw my calendar littered with appointments and said to me, “You better slow down, Rick.” At the time, I thought his counsel was overcautious, but he was right. Decades later, having experienced burnout and anxiety, I am learning that ‘soul health’ is not supplemental, but fundamental to our spiritual well-being. We must make ‘soul health’ a priority in our lives.
2. Watch Our Words. Speaking before thinking creates soul anguish and relational hardship. But thinking before we speak can eliminate soul hurts. Eliminating unnecessary, untrue, unfair, and unkind words, dismantle soul hurts for us and others in our lives. My friend modeled these principles by living out these acronyms:
- L.L.L.L. (Listen, Learn, Love, Lead).
- R.P.H.T.A. (the Righteous Ponder How To Answer; Proverbs 15:28)
- Q.T.L. (Quick To Listen; James 1:19)
- PUOPON (Put-off bad; Put on good; Colossians 3:8-17)
3. Love What God Loves. Jesus knew our soul is healthiest when we love God and others well. He said, “You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) Author Bryan Chapell writes, “…When we embrace the love of Christ, we will also embrace the way of life that Christ loves.”
4. Let Jesus Heal Your Heart. (Matthew 12:20) When our ‘soul health’ has a virus, Jesus knows our pain and gives us an answer for our spiritual immune system. (Matthew 11:28-30) He understands our sickness and gives forgiveness for all our ‘soul sins.’ Come to Him for soul healing and refreshment, (Acts 3:19) since the cross brings ultimate healing. Then, spread that joy and health to others around you!
1. Since ‘soul health’ is critical, what changes can you make to prioritize your spiritual health?
2. Who do you know that has good ‘soul health’? How can you model some of their specific traits?
Is My Reputation Really Important?
Day 22 – Read Proverbs 22
Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold. – Proverbs 22:1 NLT
Is having a good reputation really that important? We frequently hear about great restaurants with a good reputation and significant influence, and these are the ones we remember the most. Let’s be honest; we choose our brands and restaurants by their names, right? A good name and a good reputation really go a long way.
The writer of Proverbs makes a comparison between great riches and a good reputation. So what exactly is a good reputation? Simply put, a good reputation is anyone who has a positive character and influence on others. However, as relevant as human honor is, there is a higher honor. The highest honor is receiving honor from God.
Others may honor us, but being honored by the Lord, and being in a right-standing relationship with Him is of greater value. See, the key is walking with Jesus. When we do that, we will leave a good reputation behind us. In the world’s eyes, we might not appear successful, but in God’s eyes, we are.
One can have a lot of worldly riches and lack godly character, which would lead to a poor reputation. Remember, godly character is more important than material possessions. Character is what people will remember us for when we pass away. It’s our qualities and the traits that God develops in us as we continue to walk with Him that define our success in life.
Over the years, I’ve learned one of the biggest blessings in life is being at peace with God and people. See, great riches are external and temporary. God wants to produce in us eternal riches that will last forever, and those riches follow a good reputation. They can include traits like generosity, humility, influence, and integrity. These are internal qualities that God develops in us as we grow in Him, and these bring forth the fruit of a good reputation.
The author of Proverbs is calling us to live with an eternal perspective. The good news is, regardless of what we’ve done in the past, it is never too late to start doing what is right. It is never too late to start building a good reputation. Jesus provides us with a new beginning. Today is the day to start building!
1. What character traits would you like to see left behind when you pass away?
2. Why is it important to live with an eternal perspective?
The Joy of Fearing God
Day 23 – Read Proverbs 23
Don’t envy sinners, but always continue to fear the LORD. – Proverbs 23:17 NLT
The joy of fearing God? Is that a contradiction? Years ago, I was discouraged and confused about what the ‘fear of God’ meant. Now I am learning how we can possess, as Author Jerry Bridges writes, “the joy of fearing God.” Since God delights in those who fear Him, and the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7), here are four life-giving truths that will be vital to our daily lives.
1. Live With “Filial” Fear of God. ‘Servile fear’ is what we experience when we try to please a harsh master or have believed God is here to harm us. But ‘filial fear,’ as Jerry Brides writes, is “The loving fear of a child toward his father.” Pastor Sinclair Ferguson writes, “This fear is a mixture of reverence, fear, pleasure, joy, and awe which fills our hearts when we realize who God is and what He has done for us.” Live with ‘filial fear’, and its aroma will sweeten all your relationships.
2. Live With Joyful Awe. Whatever is remarkable and awe-inspiring will draw the attention of our hearts. The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 47:1-2, “Shout to God with joyful praise! For the Lord Most High is awesome. He is the Great King of all the earth.” He had a joyful awe of God, delighted in the fear of the Lord, and was able to have a positive impact on people.
3. Respect God’s Loving Discipline. Children who have a healthy respect for their father’s discipline, rather than fear of it, make healthy choices. Instead of fearing God’s “spiritual spankings,” He prefers that we obey Him out of love for Him, not fear of Him. Model this for your family and watch them gain greater confidence.
4. Live With Greater Trust. Living with that ‘filial fear’ helps us trust God better because, “the Lord watches over those who fear Him, those who rely on His unfailing love and forgiveness” (Psalm 33:18; 130:4). When we trust God’s love for us, and His grace to us even when we sin, our reverence for Him increases.
1. List ways you can remove a scary fear of God from your life. What can you start getting rid of today?
2. In what ways can you develop a ‘filial fear’ of God? How can you take your healthy fear of God and empower others with that perspective?
How Do We Make Wise Decisions With Our Relationships?
Day 24 – Read Proverbs 24
Wisdom is too lofty for fools. Among leaders at the city gate, they have nothing to say. – Proverbs 24:7 NLT
We meet many different types of people in life. Sometimes we experience friendships that encourage us, and other times some relationships pull us away from God. When we read Proverbs, we see the teacher repeatedly returning to how we should deal with people who seek their own glory rather than God’s.
In Proverbs 24, we have several examples of sinful life choices that keep us away from God. Verse 1 tells us not to envy people who walk in practicing perpetual sin or even desire their company. They actively plot evil, and they stir up trouble. They mock, they have nothing of value to share, and start fights with no guidance. They scheme, wait in ambush, and ultimately have a dark future. Their rebellion will not go unnoticed by the King of kings.
If we’re not careful about these relationships, we can be dragged down by them. They will distract us from God’s path and plan for us and fill our hearts with things that don’t deserve our time or concern. Wisdom says to steer clear and choose a different path. No pathway with these kinds of people leads to life. Wisdom says to choose a different way.
We’ve all seen what happens with people who thrive on drama, and that’s not where we want to be. We’ve seen what happens with people when they expect everything to be handed to them (verses 30-34) and how draining those relationships can be.
Instead, verses 3-4 say, “A house is built by wisdom and becomes strong through good sense. Through knowledge, its rooms are filled with all sorts of precious riches and valuables.” As Christians, we need to make sure we’re engaging with God in every way, and that includes the relationships we keep. C.S. Lewis said, “The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.”
We need to operate with compassion (verses 11-12) doing whatever we can for people who suffer unjust treatment. We need to speak up when we see injustice and share the gospel with those who are staring death in the face. We’re encouraged to taste the sweetness of wisdom (verses 13-14), taking in the goodness that God’s wisdom has to offer.
1. Do you have friends that tend to gossip, be involved in drama, or always seem stuck in the same old patterns? Pray for them but choose to spend less time with them.
2. If you have children, talk with your kids, no matter how old they are, and ask them what kind of people encourage them the most. Then empower your children to inspire others with God’s wisdom.
What Do I Do With God’s Authority?
Day 25 – Read Proverbs 25
No one can comprehend the height of heaven, the depth of the earth, or all that goes on in the king’s mind! – Proverbs 25:3 NLT
We know God is higher and wiser than we are in more ways than we can imagine. So how do we handle His authority over our lives? When we make decisions, are we including God in the process? Do we think about His will when we seek to order our lives? Does God care about stuff like the cereal we choose at the store, or is He more concerned with the “big picture” elements of our lives?
When I think about the “higher ways” of our King, I know that He’s going to blow my mind every time. Now, because He’s the omniscient King, I totally expect Him to order our days and be concerned about all the little details of my life, but I don’t think God has a hardline desire regarding which brand of raisin bran I buy for my breakfast. I do know that He does have a desire to remove the impurities from my life (verses 4-5), to live in humility (verses 6-7), and to show mercy to people (verse 8). He does care about the details of my life, how I treat my neighbor (verses 9-10), and how I receive criticism (verses 11-12).
Remember, we can’t think about everything happening in our life at once, but God sure can! We can’t see what’s going to happen next month, let alone what’s happening in the heights of heaven, the depths of the earth, or all that goes on in the King’s mind! But God is good, and He invites us, through His Word, to enter His concern for the details of our lives. He gives us guidance and instruction we can understand, and strength to move in obedience.
God has made His wisdom accessible for His children. Just as we may want to know everything God has laid out for us, He only gives us what we can handle. And God does this through His wisdom and love. Every element of our lives belongs to God, as we walk with Jesus, so He is concerned with all we do, say, and think. We don’t have to understand everything about God to know He cares about us deeply with His boundless love. So, in seeking His wisdom, let’s ask for daily direction, and be content to know that He knows the way.
Part of understanding God’s wisdom is acknowledging that His ways are so much higher than ours. It becomes beneficial then to build out intentional pathways that direct us toward His heart.
1. Set a time once a week to lay out your schedule and invite God into your decision-making process.
2. Talk with your family about praying to better understand God’s will for your day-to-day routines and priorities.
Thought I’d Be Farther Along By Now
Day 26 – Read Proverbs 26
As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness. – Proverbs 26:11 NLT
“I thought I would be farther along by now.” This is a statement I continually hear as a pastor. In fact, I’ve made this statement myself. After walking with Jesus for so long, we tend to think that we should be farther along than we are.
The reality in a Christian’s life is we are prone to miss the mark. One day is a victory. The next is a loss, and it feels like sometimes we are going backward, not forward. Why do we go back to our old habits and sins that strip us of our joy? If our sin hurts us, our families, our health, why are we so quick to go back to it?
In our Proverb today, we are told that “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.” Think of vomit as sin or unhealthy patterns that rob us of our joy. See, when we return to our sins, we are merely forgetting who we are as Christians.
As Christians, we are already free, righteous, and in good standing with God. If we have given our lives to Jesus, we are declared righteous and holy. Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.” This verse sounds good in theory, but how can we practically not “repeat our foolishness?”
We need to be teachable and open to correction. Remember, being corrected is not rejection. Proverbs is a book that provides superior wisdom. If we are going to walk in the way of understanding, we must stay open to being corrected by others. This means we need accountability in our lives and mentorship. A mentor is more experienced in their faith and can be honest with us. We need that. I need that.
We also need a correct view of sin to prevent us from repeating the same mistakes. When we sin, we are not only breaking God’s commands. We are breaking the heart of God. This is important because a proper view of sin will help us defeat evil. However, we ultimately defeat sin by abiding in Jesus and spending time with Him. When our energy and attention are towards spending time with Jesus, we won’t pay attention to sinful patterns. Be encouraged. You will be amazed at what happens when you take the focus off yourself and focus on abiding in Christ. John 15:5 says,” Those who remain in Me, and I, in them, will produce much fruit.” Take time and abide in Christ today.
1. What is one area in your life you would like to see victory in?
2. How does spending time with Jesus help us defeat sin?
How to Have Joy by Praising Others
Day 27 – Read Proverbs 27
Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth—a stranger, not your own lips. – Proverbs 27:2 NLT
As our family was packed into our white minivan, my kids swelled with pride sharing their victories at the swim meet. “Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth,” I exclaimed. “I know, Daddy,” my son sheepishly replied.
Everyone wants to be acknowledged and praised. Sharing what God has done in our lives is terrific, but sharing to inflate our egos is damaging. Here are 3 ways to avoid self-exaltation’s noose, and have joy by praising others:
1. Press Pause on Personal Puff ups. As a parent, husband, and worker, I struggle with pride and lose focus when I expect praise from others. But if we resist the drug of self-flattery by elevating our view of God through reading His Word (Psalm 139:1-16), our desire for approval from others declines (2 Corinthians 5:9). When we receive our validation, love, and acceptance from God first, it diminishes our desire to be praised by others. As our view of God grows, our longing for human praise decreases, and our love for others increases.
2. Point outside yourself by praising others. Share the beautiful aroma of grace by praising someone’s attitude, parenting advice, discipline, compassion, work ethic, and courage. You will discover a new source of joy in your life by telling others, “I love working with you,” “you encourage me,” and “your attitude empowers me.”
3. Participate with a posture that upflifts people. Anxiety flies away, and joy enters our souls when we serve others. Assist someone on a project, clean the house, volunteer at your church or community, and watch joy flood your heart. Serving is true greatness on display.
Friends, there are mountain-loads of grace available if we have fallen into the trap of self-exaltation. Find refreshment, knowing that Jesus’ forgiveness is more significant than our sinful pride. He is ready to forgive as we acknowledge our tendency to exalt ourselves. Let’s encourage and serve others, so they are empowered, our joy is heightened, and our world sees how we make much of Jesus in a world that needs Him.
1. How can praising others’ strengths minimize pride in your life?
2. What’s one way you can honor someone in your life this week?
What Do I Do with God’s Authority?
Day 28 – Read Proverbs 28
People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy. – Proverbs 28:13 NLT
As we’ve been reading through the book of Proverbs, we’ve seen a dividing line becoming more apparent. Wise people (people who listen to God, obey His commands, and walk according to His promises) have one set of outcomes. Foolish people (willfully and sinfully impulsive people who make a practice of bad choices) have a completely different outcome.
We know people who honor God and seek His will. We also know people who are out there for themselves and have no consideration for others. We see how their lives play out, and there’s little surprise about it all. For some, there is the blessing of abundant life. For others, we see a life without God’s blessing leading to death.
As we read through these proverbs that Solomon wrote, with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we can learn more and more about the heart of God. As we seek His wisdom, we see it is good and right for us to come to Him and confess our sins.
When my kids were little, we always told them that they would be in less trouble if they came to us when they did something wrong, and were honest about it, rather than trying to hide it, hoping we wouldn’t find out. Truthfully, we still found candy wrappers hidden in their rooms and jammed into nooks around the house. Our kids would say that we had an “invisible roommate” living in our house who really liked eating candy. Even then, confession is good for the soul. It means we’re putting away pride and fear and trusting God to be merciful as we come to Him in repentance.
Wisdom says that we should examine ourselves daily. Wisdom reminds us to check our motivations. Wisdom says to make sure we seek out God’s will above our own, confess our sins, and admit our deep need for Him. In grace, God has given us the Good News of Jesus’ sacrifice to help us as we seek Him in His wisdom. He provides direction through His Holy Spirit as we walk in the life that Jesus provides through His atoning death, burial, and resurrection.
We don’t think about our daily need to be open with God about our struggles like we should. Life is busy. When we think about God’s love for us, and how freely He offers us forgiveness through Christ, it would be foolish to hold all of this in and carry the burden alone.
1. Talk with God today about your relationship with Him. With His amazing grace in mind, be encouraged through a time of open conversation with Him.
2. Find an accountability partner with whom you can discuss God’s promises in James 5:16 and confess your sins to one another.
Attack Problems, Not People
Day 29 – Read Proverbs 29
Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back. – Proverbs 29:11 NLT
Ever been arguing with someone, the phone rings, and you politely say, “Hello!” The person on the other end of the phone asks, “How are you?” and you sheepishly say, “Doing great!” though your emotions are still flowing with heat from the conflict.” I confess this has happened to me.
What did we just do? We controlled our anger. The encouraging truth is, no matter how hard it is… we can control our anger.
Anger is something we all deal with and sadly has shattered marriages, estranged family members, ruined Christmas, and strained even long-standing friendships. How can we control our temper instead of it controlling us? Here are three strategies that disarm anger and direct its passion for good.
1. Know your anger type. Some of us get angry and blow up by raising our voices and waving our arms. Others clam up and silently internalize their anger. We might sit in the corner or withdraw to our room, but the person who clams up is just as upset as the person who blows up. Apply these two remedies based on what type of anger you experience most often. First, instead of blowing up, calm down. A gentle answer turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1). Second, instead of clamming up, care for what the other person thinks (Philippians 2:3-4).
2. Attack the problem, not the person. In Ephesians 4:26-27, Paul writes, “And don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.”
Instead of letting anger control us, let’s handle it by attacking problems, not people. Replace “It frustrates me when you” statements with problem-solving statements like, “When you said this, I heard you say… is that what you meant?” Attacking the problem can reduce tension and produce more hope and joy.
3. Come to Jesus for grace and healing. We have all groveled after a ‘bad argument.’ We feel loaded with guilt at how our words hurt our spouse and family. Take it all to Jesus. Confess it to a Jesus who loves us and died for all your frustration sins since His grace is more significant than our sins of frustration.
Let’s love others, attack problems, and leave anger in the rearview mirror.
1. Identify your ‘anger type.’ Do you have the tendency to blow up or clam up?
2. Attacking problems and not people is a crucial remedy. What’s one way you can attack problems, not people this week?
I Can’t Get No Satisfaction
Day 30 – Read Proverbs 30
Give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. – Proverbs 30:8 NLT
One of the most popular songs is “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones. Satisfaction. The desire of every person! We look for it in our careers, looks, social status, and fame. We even attach our worth to these things, and they become our idols. However, in the end, we still fall short. So, where do we find true satisfaction? How much is “enough” to satisfy our needs? It always seems that when we get “there,” there is still another ‘there” to get to.
In Proverbs 30:8, the writer says,” Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.” That raises a question. What does meet our needs?
The greatest need of every person is forgiveness. That forgiveness is found in Jesus Christ. It’s man’s greatest need! See, true satisfaction is found in Christ alone. We all have an eternal longing that cannot be filled with worldly treasures. What are the earthly treasures? In short, they are things we cannot take with us to heaven. What are some of your treasures?
Notice the writer says, “Give me neither poverty nor riches.” He encourages us to live out of a place of contentment and dependence. Dependence on God should be the posture of every believer through every season.
In fact, two of the most significant tests in life are what we do in times of success and suffering. If we cannot handle success, it will destroy us. On the flip side, suffering can beat us. One thing is for sure, it does not leave us the same. The pain will either draw us closer to God or pull us further away.
The challenge is to walk with Jesus in success and suffering. So the writer prays for “just enough” to satisfy his needs. The answer to that need is simple. Jesus is enough. When we have Him, we have all that we need. If we do not fall in love with Jesus, we will fall in love with the things of this world. That’s called idolatry. So we must ask ourselves an honest question: Who is the lover of our souls?
Daily Doses Of Wisdom’s Treasures
Think about all the pain we would save ourselves from by understanding that our satisfaction is only found in Christ. So take time to abide in Christ today. Pour your heart out to Him. Meditate on His Word. He is enough.
1. What is one area you are depending on God for?
2. Ask yourself, “What is it in my life that I need in order to feel valuable?” That is most likely your idol.
Encouraging What is Honorable
Day 31 – Read Proverbs 31
Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise. – Proverbs 31:31 NLT
Reading through Proverbs 31, we see a beautiful testimony about a strong, dynamic, smart, savvy woman whose accolades make most people feel like they’re coming up short in comparison. If we use wisdom in reading this passage, we quickly understand that people need to sleep at some point and that we can’t be on the go 24/7/365 without that level of activity taking its toll on us.
The example here isn’t meant to be a burden, but a picture of what our life can look like when we live for others and with God’s great wisdom. The goal of this chapter is to live without vices controlling us in a productive way that has a positive benefit for those around us. The hypothetical woman, who represents the bride of Christ, is someone living in that wisdom. We can look to her example to be encouraged in many different areas of our lives, and inspire others as we see God working in them as well.
Think about it. What would it look like if more people were encouraged any time someone saw part of the “Proverbs 31 woman” at work in them? Wouldn’t that be amazing? Every time someone sees a mom taking care of her kids in a God-honoring way? Encouraged! Every time someone is noticed for being a hard worker. Encouraged! Every time someone who likes working with their hands produces something. Encouraged! Every time someone is savvy with their business skills? Encouraged!
If we look at the chapter as a guide for encouragement, and not a call to be super-human, we can gain a whole new perspective on approaching one another. We can use these unique opportunities to see God’s wisdom at work in people, and to “praise them at the city gates.” This is also beneficial because we are urged to encourage others who seek God’s guidance in their lives.
We can all think about someone who has encouraged us at some point in our life. It may be a teacher, a family member, a coworker, or even a stranger. Those interactions make a mark on us, leave an impression, and create a positive point of reference for us when times are hard. We remember that God can and will accomplish these things in us through His holy wisdom.
1. Think about someone who has been an encouragement to you. Reach out and thank them for encouraging you by encouraging them.
2. Find a friend who needs encouragement and share how you think God is using them.